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Endangered Soufflé

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No points for guessing what happens next.
"Worry and doubt are the greatest enemies of a great chef. The soufflé will either rise or it won't; there's not a damn thing you can do about it, so you might as well just sit back and wait and see what happens."
Captain Benjamin Sisko (quoting his father), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "In The Pale Moonlight"

A trope that is little-used these days without actually being discredited, this could be found occasionally on Dom Coms up until the early 1970s, particularly those with child characters. A cook is attempting to bake a soufflé for a fancy party or important dinner. Unfortunately, they must do so under riotous circumstances, with a consequent paranoia about the soufflé collapsing. Naturally, some event — rambunctious children or a slamming door or a car backfiring — does indeed make the soufflé fall, thus "spoiling" the event.

Two variations on this trope exist: In one, the rambunctious behavior around the soufflé is quieted down with no ill effects, only to have a relatively-distant disturbance (slamming door, car backfire) collapse the soufflé after it is "safe" (the soufflé can be replaced by say, a sleeping baby). The other works much the same, except that it is the cook themself who triggers the collapse.

In reality, the only way to drop a soufflé into a puddle of goo is to:

  1. Open the oven prematurely (sponge cakes are also subject to this).
  2. Improperly construct it so that the fat in the yolk mixture destabilizes the foamy whites mixture. Refer to the relevant Good Eats episode. What Alton Brown doesn't say, though, is that it is laughably easy to do this, especially given mid-20th century ingredients and equipment, hence the origin of the trope in the zeitgeist.

See also Carrying a Cake and Prop.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Food Wars!: During a challenge where the students are required to serve 200 servings of an egg-based dish within a time limit, Soma makes the nearly fatal mistake of serving soufflé omelettes that collapse way too quickly after they are made. He recovers by throwing away all the collapsed omelettes and turning the process of making the omelettes into a performance so that people will take them immediately after they are made.

    Comic Books 
  • Gaston Lagaffe once baked an enormous soufflé to cheer up his chronically depressed cousin. Initially it seems to work, but it collapses at a critical moment, resulting in the "most depressing sight ever." Probably justified, since Gaston is a Cordon Bleugh Chef often bordering on a Lethal Chef.

    Comic Strips 
  • One of the storylines of MAD's "Monroe" has the titular loser try to impress a girl named Jolynda by making her a soufflé. However, since he's the universe's personal chewtoy, his delicate dessert is ruined by his brutish classmate, Dylan. Laughing, the bully strolls away with Jolynda in tow, leaving the poor antenna-haired teenager to stew in his culinary failure.
  • In Beetle Bailey, a similar thing is a recurring theme with Cookie's cakes, which can apparently be deflated by loud bangs when in the oven — he even has a cake of potential Guinness World Records size fail due to a massive simultaneous artillery practice barrage being initiated at the critical moment.
  • Garfield has an aversion in a situation where there would be an actual danger in Real Life. Garfield appears to be watching a horror movie, covering his eyes at the "scary part" as someone on TV (not shown) opens a door with a "creeeeeeek" sound effect. In the last panel, Garfield sighs in relief as the person on TV... pulls out a "perfect soufflé".
  • Averted and discussed in one Sherman's Lagoon strip, wherein Megan's confusion over managing to cook a soufflé without destroying it is cleared up when Sherman mentions a recent Cue the Flying Pigs moment.

    Fan Works 
  • Used straight but comedically in the notorious Sith Academy Slash Fic series; the humor of the situation comes from the fact that the person baking the chocolate soufflé is Darth Maul, a vicious-minded Sith Lord who otherwise has the patience of a hyperactive weasel, while what causes it to collapse (and Maul to fly into a homicidal rage) is two Jedi Knights (Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui Gon Jinn, as it happens) having noisy sex in the apartment next door.
  • Played rather straight for Pinkie Pie Vs. The Soufflé in the Triptych Continuum. The focus of the story has Pinkie attempting to make the dish as her masterpiece: the creation which will prove she's no longer an 'apprentice' baker. It goes about as well as you'd expect on the first attempt. And beyond. It's implied that she's subconsciously sabotaging herself because she's not ready to stop being an apprentice, the first step to eventually leaving the Cakes.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Happens naturally to Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina when she forgets to turn on the oven in the first place.
  • It happens with a cake in Harriet the Spy, only Harriet deliberately stomps and knocks over some chairs after the cook tells her to be quiet. Also in the original novel.
  • Charlie's Angels (2000) has Lucy Liu's character Alex attempting to keep her soufflé intact while the trailer she's in is getting perforated with bullets. The soufflé never stood a chance.
    • Ironically, it actually managed to survive the shoot-out... only to collapse at the sound of Alex's sigh of relief.
  • Appears in How to Murder Your Wife with the wife's famous "lasagna soufflé". (It sounds improbable, but there actually is such a thing. It's popular in the Abruzzi, which perhaps is where Mrs. Ford is from.)
  • A recurring gag in the Shaquille O'Neal superhero movie Steel.
  • Averted in ABC's extended cut of Superman II. Supes is cooking a soufflé with his heat vision, and Lois stops him just in time.note 
    "You should never overcook a soufflé!"
  • In Go West, Young Lady, Bill is cooking a souffle when Tex arrives to propose. She warns him not to make any loud noises. After several near misses, she accepts, which causes Tex to whoop and charge out, slamming the door, which causes the souffle to fall. Bill makes another one, only to have this one fall when Killer Pete enters the dance hall and fires several shots into the ceiling.
  • A few The Three Stooges shorts have the men bake a cake. After getting it out of the oven, one of them pokes it with a fork to check if it's done, causing it to deflate. To reflate it, they use the gas line from the oven, which sometimes causes it to float away. Those cakes are served as birthday cakes with candles, which of course leads to Stuff Blowing Up when the birthday person blows out the candles.

  • Harriet the Spy: Invoked. Harriet deliberately stomps in the middle of the floor to mess up the cake that the cook is making.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Beverly Hillbillies: In "Back to Californy", Granny and Cousin Pearl become embroiled in a fight while each cooking a meal in the mansion's kitchen. Pearl purposely destroys Granny's cake by slamming the oven door. Pearl snidely tells Granny that her sweet potato pie is fall-proof. Granny takes out the pie and drops it on the floor!
  • The Catherine Tate Show does this with a pair of new parents attending a dinner party and being forced to eat in the car for fear of waking the baby.
    "Are you insane? She's asleep — we can't move her!"
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • In "Sacrifice of Angels", when the station is under Dominion control, Quark and Ziyal try to bring a soufflé to a group of prisoners. Naturally, the guard demands to investigate it, and is only made further suspicious when Quark gets nervous and invokes this trope as the reason... giving Ziyal a chance to get behind him while he's distracted and knock him out with the Off-Button Hypospray, causing his head to fall into the soufflé and crush it. Quark briefly expresses regret for his soufflé, but gets over it since it was only meant as a decoy and therefore served its purpose.
    • Also referenced by Sisko, when he relates to how his father used to say: "Worry and doubt are the greatest enemies of a great chef. The soufflé will either rise or it won't; there's not a damn thing you can do about it, so you might as well just sit back and wait and see what happens."
  • Subverted with Seven of Nine in Star Trek: Voyager, who tried to make a soufflé to cheer up Neelix. "The soufflé has collapsed somewhat, but its nutritional content remains intact."
  • In The Brady Bunch, Alice keeps trying to shush the kids and then collapses the soufflé herself by knocking over a pan with a loud crash.
  • An episode of Are You Being Served? had the opposite problem, in which Mr. Humphries was trying to hold down a soufflé that was growing out of control.
  • In the MasterChef semi-finals, the contestants had to make a chocolate soufflé. Whitney, the eventual winner had a case of both Carrying a Cake and Endangered Soufflé as she had to hurry and present the soufflé to the judges as the soufflé slowly sank.
    • Similarly, one episode of MasterChef Junior involved baking a soufflé using dark chocolate, milk chocolate, strawberries, or blackberries. Addison's blackberry soufflé won the challenge, but Zac's milk chocolate soufflé collapsed because he didn't whisk the egg whites properly.
  • In one episode of My Three Sons, "Happy Birthday, World," son Robbie tries to earn extra money by setting up a home business making birthday cakes. At one point, while he's making a set of cakes, a door is slammed in the house and causes the three cakes in the oven to collapse.
  • The Golden Girls:
    • Although the soufflé in question is never seen (technically, it was some kind of cake with a very complicated name), in the episode where Rose is revealed to have a dependency on painkillers, she has violent mood swings when her prescription runs out; a local producer is trying to film a commercial in the kitchen with Sophia, and Rose comes in and tears him a new one for endangering the soufflé that no one knew she was making.
      • Could this have been a Shout-Out to the MTM episode mentioned below?
    • Season 4, "The Impotence of Being Ernest," they get it in a restaurant and it figures into a boner joke. So the real soufflé rises but the metaphorical one doesn't.
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Cloris Leachman's character Phyllis deliberately collapses a soufflé Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White) is baking when Phyllis finds out about Nivens' affair with her husband.
  • Played with in an episode of The Nanny; Niles has just been told that the very complex meal he's been killing himself making is now worthless because their guest is recovering from a heart attack and needs a special menu. When Max opens the door and asks what smells so good, Niles snaps: "Oh, just a chocolate soufflé that's been rising. Don't need that." (Slams the oven door closed HARD with his foot.)
  • Oswin in the Doctor Who episode "Asylum of the Daleks" keeps trying and failing to make a soufflé. Turns out it was just a fantasy in her mind and the soufflés were a subliminal reminder that she had been transformed into a Dalek ("Eggs-stir-min-ate").
  • In one episode of Mission: Impossible, Barney (in his cover as the villain's cook) used this as an excuse to explain why the guards could not search the kitchen at this time (Thus granting him, Willy, and Cinnamon time to hide their equipment before the search).
  • In a Charmed (1998) episode, Piper is baking a soufflé. When Leo walks in, speaking loudly, Piper threatens to blow him up if her soufflé falls.
  • Averted in series 6 of The Great British Bake Off: The semifinal technical challenge was a chocolate soufflé, and while there were some issues all the soufflés made it to judging un-collapsed.
  • Inverted in the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers episode "Switching Places", where Billy (in Kimberly's body after Squatt tampered with his mind-reading machine) makes a cheese soufflé that explodes instead.
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun: In the third season finale, everyone starts yelling and running around after Harry is kidnapped by Vicki Dubcek's ex-boyfriend. In the middle of the commotion, Tommy runs out of the kitchen to complain that the noise has caused his soufflé to collapse.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In the Marisa Berenson episode of The Muppet Show, the Swedish Chef makes a wedding cake for Miss Piggy's Real Fake Wedding which is "light as a feather". It collapses when the Chef puts the Miss Piggy on top of it.
    • A variation from a different sketch: The Swedish Chef's soufflé comes out of the oven so light it actually floats into the air. He shoots an arrow at it in an attempt to get it to fall down. It falls down, all right... in both senses of the word.
      Swedish Chef: The freesbee soufflé.
  • Wimzie's House: Ya Ya tries to bake a soufflé at a time when Wimzie is sick. Unfortunately, Wimzie has to use a loud blowhorn to get attention and that causes Ya Ya's soufflé to collapse.note 

  • At one point in The Archers, the temperamental chef at Grey Gables invokes this trope:
    If Caroline is manager, I am happy. If I am happy, my soufflés rise. If I am not happy...

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Time Squad, Larry attempts to finish his latest creation - a Rose Petal Soufflé - when Tuddrussel and Otto come in to pull pranks on him.
  • Inverted in The Tick, where a mad baker attempts to create a giant soufflé to smother The City. To collapse the soufflé, the Tick must shoot himself out of a cannon at the speed of sound.
  • In an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, SpongeBob causes the collapse of Squidward's soufflé after it's removed from the oven.
  • Futurama:
    • When long-time chef show host Helmut Spargle is replaced by the Emeril-esque Elzar, Elzar "BAM"s and causes Spargle's soufflé to collapse.
    • Parodied and justified in later episode "The Mutants are Revolting", which features a soufflé that contains nitroglycerin.
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
    • A plot point early in an episode: Timmy's mom tries to make a pink soufflé, which collapses and turns grey (due to her poor cooking skills, rather than noise). Later, when Timmy makes a wish that everyone and everything were the same, the world goes grey-scale, and everyone becomes identical blobs. Cosmo and Wanda can't find Timmy until he recreates his trademark pink hat using another of his mother's collapsed soufflés, which was supposed to be grey.
    • In another episode, Timmy wishes Jorgen to his location while the latter was making a soufflé. Jorgen then threatens Timmy that if his soufflé were to fall, he would bake him a mighty cake of death.
  • This happens to Reverend Lovejoy in The Simpsons, when a phone call from Ned Flanders distracted him long enough from his soufflé for it to collapse.
    Lovejoy: Damn Flanders...
  • On Cyberchase, Matt and Digit are competing in a televised cooking competition with Hacker and one of his henchmen (Buzz). Buzz tries to sabotage Matt and Digit's soufflé by creating a loud noise to make it fall flat, but Digit, who has repeatedly been stated throughout the series to have some degree of cooking skill, says that it was possible to re-inflate the soufflé by using a certain number of drops of water on it at a certain rate.
  • Dave the Barbarian makes an 'Armageddon Soufflé', not realizing that it is "not only a tasty end to any meal, but a tasty end ... TO THE WORLD!" It wreaks havoc, only being collapsed when Dave's family chops down a tree, which lands on Dave's toe and makes him scream like an opera singer.
  • In Recess, the gang decides to save Vince from being sent to France by sabotaging his soufflé test by popping a paper bag, but they try to stop the sabotage once they hear that Vince actually wants to go.
  • In one episode of Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures, Berrykin Bloom's loud bassoon-playing collapses the soufflés that Strawberry made.
  • Discussed in Angela Anaconda, when Gordy and Angela's brothers are making a soufflé and tell her to be quiet because it's in the oven.
  • In the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "An Ed Too Many", Jimmy is moping about Sarah leaving him to go swoon over Edd when the soufflé he's baking for lunch finishes; it collapses almost immediately.
    Jimmy: Darn egg whites!
  • An episode of Madeline, where Madeline and her friends are learning how to cook at Cordon Bleu has this happen to Nicole. The soufflé she makes is tres manifique, but then it deflates. She cries.
  • A common thing that happens not only to Greedy's soufflés, but also his muffins, in The Smurfs (1981).
  • Spoofed in Chowder.
    • Mung and Shnitzel creating a giant "house of cards" soufflé in the beginning of one episode was just asking for trouble. Chowder completely destroys it by rolling a giant wawamelon over it.
    • One episode has Chowder become unable to open his mouth without unleashing fire at a time when the Catering Co. has an order for a Barbershop Soufflé, which requires 4 people to sing in order to rise. When Chowder opens his mouth, the soufflé is instantly ruined.
    Soufflé: Why, Chowder? WHY?
  • The Day My Butt Went Psycho!: Lampshaded in one episode when Deuce and Elanor's fighting is wrecking everything Zack does. He comments that he probably picked the wrong day to bake a soufflé. Just as he takes it out of the oven, Deuce and Elanor thunder past. Miraculously, the soufflé survives. Then Deuce returns to shout (through a megaphone) how amazing it is that the soufflé didn't collapse...
  • Arthur:
    • The episode "Arthur's Family Feud" involves either Arthur or D.W. destroying their dad's soufflé by making it fall... off the table and onto the floor, that is. The relevance of it being a soufflé was that Mr. Read had never successfully made one before and was especially crestfallen that his hard work had gone to waste. The bulk of the episode involves their dispute over who was to blame for it.
    • In "Dad's Dessert Dilemma," Arthur's dad experiments with combining different desserts, to little success. One such creation is cinnamon toast soufflé, which deflates as soon as he takes it out of the toaster.
  • In one episode of Fillmore!, Fillmore "accidentally" ruins a rude suspect's soufflé by popping an inflated paper bag.
  • An episode of CatDog had Cat making a soufflé and trying to keep Dog quiet so it doesn't collapse. Then Winslow walks in and Cat begs him not to say a word, which he complies, but slams his front door shut, causing the soufflé to cough and deflate.
  • In an episode of Rayman: The Animated Series, Cookie bakes a cake as part of a meal for Inspector Grub's date, but then Lac-Mac loudly drops a large stack of plates, collapsing it.
  • Happens on the Classic Disney Short "Mickey's Birthday Party" with the cake Goofy is making. The first time the cake comes out fine, but when Goofy sticks a straw to see if it's done the cake deflates like a balloon. The second time, Goofy is trying to sneak away quietly but trips on a rolling pin, causing the cake to collapse so hard it breaks through the floor.
  • On an episode of The Flintstones Fred does this when he opens the oven while trying to retrieve a diamond ring that got baked into the cake.
  • One of the winter My Little Pony: Equestria Girls shorts puts a more realistic spin on the threat of this: Pinkie Pie is attempting to get a soufflé to Rarity, an endeavor which has failed in the past because she was too slow and the pastry collapsed when it cooled down too much. On top of this, she has to get it through a massive snowball fight in her front yard: as Sunset Shimmer realizes, one hit and the soufflé is done for.
  • In the Total Drama episode "If You Can't Take The Heat", Lindsay and Gwen are put in charge of the citrus-macadamia upside-down cake flambé for the cooking challenge, but they pour too much flammable liquid on it and Heather's attempt to light it ends up burning off her eyebrows. They try to salvage it by covering the whole thing with orange sauce, but the second Chris' fork touches it, it deflates into a tiny, inedible ball of ash.
  • In Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, the characters are chasing the villains through a television studio. They disrupt a cooking show, and this becomes a Discussed Trope because they destroy the soufflé before it can even be put in the oven.
    TV Chef: Today, on Looking At Cooking, we will be making ze soufflé. (cracks two eggs into the batter) Remember, ze soufflé must be made just right, or it will be ze... (costumed animals crash through the studio. General pandemonium. The batter splashes all over the chef) ...disaster.
  • This happened twice in The Proud Family every time Trudy makes a soufflé.
  • In an episode from The Smurfs (2021), Chef and Greedy make a harrowing trip through the Smurf Forest in order to deliver a souffle intact to a festival, only for it to collapse the moment after it reaches the festival.


Video Example(s):


Le Souffle

The last challenge for the cooking competition is to make a souffle. Buzz tries to sabotage Matt and Digit's souffle by creating a loud noise to make it fall flat, but Digit, who has repeatedly been stated throughout the series to have some degree of cooking skill, says that it was possible to re-inflate the souffle by using a certain number of drops of water on it at a certain rate. They eventually did and because of Hacker not keeping track of how much time the souffle will be ready, his souffle was burnt.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / EndangeredSouffle

Media sources: